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Up in the air

27 2 27

I AM 75 years old, and as far as I can remember, the civil-military establishment in Pakistan has always told us that the country is in danger. However, they never told us why we were in danger and how we could get out of it. Sometime later we were informed that the 1,400-year-old Islam was also in danger from the Western culture of obscenity and free thinking.

These were not just statements. Around them a whole world of suppression, violation of human rights, accusations of treason, retrogressive thinking and forced or self-imposed censorship were constructed. In spite of this, Pakistanis understood the nature of the state and the functions of its different institutions. There was also an accepted manner of dissent and one knew what its repercussions would be, including death by torture in some fort or the other, if one was a communist. But today the whole system is up in the air. No one knows anything.

Recent Supreme Court judgements that have an impact on politics have become controversial in the minds of the people of Pakistan, and questions are being asked such as to what extent the courts can or should intervene in matters related to the public realm. Questions are also being asked about when and how suo motu should be applied and of........

© Dawn